Retail in Asia


Cambodia ‘an increasingly attractive destination’ for SEA investors

Cambodia, well known for its cultural heritage, is rapidly emerging as a promising hub for investment and development, according to Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation vice president Thierry Tea. 

With its strategic location in Southeast Asia and policies aimed at fostering economic growth, Cambodia can offer potential for businesses and investors seeking new opportunities. OCIC says recent partnerships in Cambodia exemplify the growing interest in the country’s retail, real estate, education, tourism, and hospitality sectors.

As Cambodia continues to attract international attention and forge strategic alliances, it positions itself as a dynamic destination for those looking to participate in its burgeoning economy.

Among OCIC’s recent ventures is a partnership with Southeast Asian retail giant Big C, to establish a hypermarket in Phnom Penh and provide residents with a diverse range of premium food items and elevated shopping experiences.

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OCIC’s startup affiliate, Dara Ventures, has secured partnerships with Norbreeze Group and Norbreeze Collective Asia to expand their portfolio of international brands, including Pandora and Bering Timepieces.

Other notable collaborations by the group include a venture with Accor to launch a new hotel and an agreement with Lagardère Travel Retail to manage duty-free operations at Techo International Airport.

An aerial view of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Source: Shutterstock

Retail in Asia speaks with OCIC’s Thierry Tea on Cambodia’s growth potential and the key factors to the country’s evolving retail sector.

RiA: Can you share with us some observations on Cambodia’s growth trajectory in  2024, as well as in the next five years? 

Thierry Tea: The Cambodian economy is projected to grow by over 6 percent this year, making it the 14th  fastest-growing economy in 2024.

The upcoming opening of the new Techo International  Airport next year will further cater to this increased demand, facilitating the arrival of more  tourists and bolstering the hospitality industry. 

Cambodia also enjoys the benefits of numerous free trade agreements and actively  welcomes international trade and investment. This, coupled with relative predictability in market access and policy stability, positions the country as an increasingly attractive  destination for investors seeking a foothold in Southeast Asia. 

RiA: What factors do you think are contributing to Cambodia’s growth landscape,  particularly when it comes to the retail sector? 

Tea: Cambodia’s retail sector is experiencing an upswing, fuelled by several contributing factors.

One key contributing factor would be the growing urbanisation and infrastructure  development in Cambodia. Cambodia’s growing economy also translates to a larger middle class and rising income levels, with more of Cambodia’s urban residents willing to pay for quality products, as well as  other non-essential goods and services.

From left: In development is the new Techo International Airport in Phnom Penh; OCIC vice president Thierry Tea.

This has attracted several international brands and  chains, including Big C, one of the biggest supermarket chains in Thailand, H&M and Starbucks, where there are about 40 Starbucks outlets in Cambodia. 

The tourism industry has also contributed to the growth of the retail sector, with tourists not  only visiting the country’s key cultural destinations, but also shopping for souvenirs and other  products. 

There’s much potential for the retail sector in Cambodia, but retailers should also be aware of growing competition from e-commerce sites and potential oversaturation due to the huge  amount of developments being built. 

RiA: Which specific areas or cities in Cambodia will see greater development in  coming years? 

Tea: One key area would be the bustling capital of Cambodia. Phnom Penh is well-known as a  hub for business, manufacturing and education, and is seeing an influx of people, with a  growing number of companies making the capital city their home. 

As a result, much of the city is being developed to meet demand, with many satellite cities  being developed within the area. One example is Koh Pich in Phnom Penh, a city centre  situated on the Mekong and Bassac rivers. It was initially a swamp but has since been  developed as a residential and commercial area, with OCIC Group enhancing the area with new parks and fostering a growing tech startup ecosystem. 

Big C is slated to open a new hypermarket in Phnom Penh. Source: Big C

Another neighbourhood being developed by OCIC Group is Norea City, located in the heart  of Phnom Penh. In Norea City, OCIC is working on developing a centre for an international commercial hub, including luxury residential areas.

RiA: OCIC is involved in a number of partnerships in Cambodia, including the Techo International Airport. Can you tell us about  that? 
A rendering of the Techo International Airport. Source: OCIC

Tea: Set to open next year, the airport will become a 4F class airport, which is the highest class  globally and will accommodate up to 15 million passengers a year. The estimated USD1.5  billion project (for phase one of the airport) is a joint venture between OCIC and the Cambodian  government’s State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA). 

The airport has partnered with many internationally recognised companies to launch the  airport as a state-of-the-art terminal building providing the highest levels of passenger  experience, while setting new standards for sustainability.

A rendering of the Techo International Airport. Source: OCIC

For example, the airport is  designed by British international architecture firm Fosters + Partners, while Singaporean  companies Changi Airports International will be working with OCIC on the airport’s retail and  F&B offerings. Singapore Airline Engineering Corporation (SIAEC) will also be working with  OCIC to create a centre of excellence for aircraft maintenance, to support future operations  at the new airport.

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Travel retail heavyweight Lagardère Travel Retail, along with its local  partner HSC Group, which manages F&B brands such as Burger King and Paris Baguette,  will manage the duty-free operations at Techo International Airport in Cambodia.

With construction over 70 percent completed, the team is very excited to launch the airport next  year and attract more tourists and investors to become the regional transit hub, and the country’s answer to world-class infrastructure.